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Unforced Variations: June 2011

Filed under: — group @ 1 June 2011

A new open thread…

487 Responses to “Unforced Variations: June 2011”

  1. 451
    Tom says:

    More puzzling data.

    “During the past 6-years since Hurricane Katrina, global tropical cyclone frequency and energy have decreased dramatically, and are currently at near-historical record lows. According to a new peer-reviewed research paper accepted to be published, only 69 tropical storms were observed globally during 2010, the fewest in almost 40-years of reliable records.”

    http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/

    Disappointing since this is from a fellow Florida State guy. Not the data, it is what it is, but the fact he posted this over at WUWT.

  2. 452
    Tom says:

    More puzzling data.

    “During the past 6-years since Hurricane Katrina, global tropical cyclone frequency and energy have decreased dramatically, and are currently at near-historical record lows. According to a new peer-reviewed research paper accepted to be published, only 69 tropical storms were observed globally during 2010, the fewest in almost 40-years of reliable records.”

    http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/

    Disappointing (not the data, it is what it is) but this is from a fellow Florida State guy. And he posted this over at WUWT and is responding to and seems to be in agreement with the nutjobs.

  3. 453
    Hank Roberts says:

    Tom, what do you find surprising? That seems consistent with other work, e.g.

    http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/arep/wwrp/tmr/otherfileformats/documents/3_3.pdf
    “… 3.3.1 Introduction
    This report reviews recent science publications concerning tropical cyclone (TC) activity on climate time scales…. (specifically long-term trends and decadal to multi-decadal variability).
    An assessment of TCs and climate change was published recently by a WMO Expert Team (Knutson et al. 2010b). As a summary review, the main findings of that assessment are reproduced here:
    Detection and Attribution:
    It remains uncertain whether past changes in tropical cyclone activity (frequency, intensity, rainfall, etc.) exceed the variability expected through natural causes, after accounting for changes over time in observing capabilities.
    Tropical Cyclone Projections: (based on the IPCC SRES A1B scenario for the late 21st century) Frequency: It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged due to greenhouse warming. We have very low confidence in projected changes in individual basins. Current models project changes ranging from -6 to -34% globally, and up to ± 50% or more in individual basins by the late 21st century….”

  4. 454
    Michele says:

    @ 450 Patrick

    Divergence
    Il seems we are saying the same thing. Photonically, a volume V is non-divergent when the incoming flux equals the outgoing one, i.e., when no one photon is created and no one photon is destroyed and. In this case the photons simply pass through the molecules filling the volume maintaining unmodified their total energy. The volume above becomes photonically divergent when it includes a photon-source (photons are created from heat) or a photon-sink (photons are destroyed to heat), that’s, when the same volume simultaneously is thermally divergent including a thermal-sink (heat transformed to photons) or a thermal-source (heat obtained destroying photons).
    Within the troposphere, the volume above is convectively rising and in absolute it is exchanging heat with the surroundings by conduction and radiation but nevertheless we assume that the rising is adiabatic because the effects of the conduction/radiation are negligible when we plot the lapse rate.

    Heat engine
    The atmosphere allows the transfer of the radiation emitted by the surface, constraining it to pay duty but assuring that what enter at the bottom exit at the top, in a non-divergent way and at the same time it emits its own photons obtained from the heat. As far as I know, the rise of the energy quality by means of the heat is just what is called “heat engine”.

  5. 455
    J Bowers says:

    Willie Soon funded $1 million by Big Oil, Big Coal and power utilities.

    Greenpeace CASE STUDY: Dr. Willie Soon, a Career Fueled by Big Oil and Coal

    2003 email:

    “Clearly they [the AR4 chapters] may be too much for any one of us to tackle them all … But, as A-team, we may for once give it our best shot to try to anticipate and counter some of the chapters, especially WG1—judging from our true expertise in the basic climate sciences …

    Even if we can tackle ONE single chapter down the road but forcefully and effectively … we will really accomplish A LOT!

    In all cases, I hope we can start discussing among ourselves to see what we can do to weaken the fourth assessment report or to re-direct attention back to science …””

  6. 456
    Phil N. says:

    Re: 451 & 452. A friend recently sent the abstract of the FL State paper under the title “Global Warming…I think NOT!” After checking here and looking at the papers Tom and Hank referred to, as well as the executive summary of the 7th International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones, it seems the workshop concluded that it is difficult to make any claims regarding TC frequency and/or intensity and climate change. So I simply reminded my friend (and others) to beware of inferring any cause-effect relationship between Maue’s summary and climate change. While there may be a negative correlation, there are too many variables to draw any firm conclusions. Unfortunately, other GW advocates have made some claims as to GW causing an increase in TC frequency/intensity.

    Thanx to this site for helping me (once again, although I’ve not commented before) provide a relevant response to folks who try to dismiss GW as a major hoax upon the world.

  7. 457
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re Michele 453

    – a heat engine converts heat to work, with a flow of heat from a higher temperature to a lower temperature (this can be done because conserving entropy allows a smaller heat flux to reach the lower temperature heat sink, so some of the heat flux from the higher temperature heat source is available to do/become work). Thermally direct convection (warmer air rising, cooler air sinking) does this because kinetic energy is produced while some amount of enthalpy is extracted (enthalpy of sinking cooler air increases by a smaller amount than the decreases in enthalpy of rising warmer air). Thermally indirect convection does the reverse – it converts work to heat while moving heat from lower to higher temperature.

    _________________________________

    – Yes, the troposphere tends to approach a (moist) adiabatic lapse rate. But not all of the convective heat flux from the surface reaches the tropopause (yes, some is converted to work, but most of that ends up as heat again (with higher entropy – don’t worry, no perpetual motion machine here) within the troposphere (or in the ocean, which then gives heat to the troposphere along with the solar heat it recieves, etc.); a little bit of work energy goes up into the stratosphere and above and drives thermally indirect circulations there; my understanding is that this is a small amount in the global annual average, though I’m not sure of a number).
    As you go up through the troposphere, the convective heat flux from the surface generally diminishes with height on average. This convergence of the convective heat flux is a heating rate, which is balanced (on average)by net radiant cooling.

    This net radiant cooling is necessary to support the convective lapse rate. If convection were constant all the way to the tropopause, then only the tropopause level would be heated by convection – this could lead to an inversion beneath that level, or otherwise a smaller positive lapse rate that is more stable to convection, because, optical properties as they are for Earth, net radiant cooling can occur if a layer is warm enough (and if there is no convective heating or cooling within the troposphere, it would have to be at radiative equilibrium, so the layer would have to have a temperature profile that brings net radiant cooling to zero, and such a profile could easily be different from a convective lapse rate).

    1. convection with large amounts of entrainment:
    But a smaller lapse rate would impede that convection. So the convection from the surface would then stop short of reaching the tropopause level. It will instead heat a lower layer, and it will heat that layer until it destabilizes the temperature profile above, at which point it can penetrate higher. Etc. In pure radiative equilibrium, the lapse rate is superadiabatic near the surface, but is actually stable to convection at some point higher up within what is now the troposphere (I don’t have the graph in front of me so I can’t be more specific); if we artificially hold convection back and allow such a profile to exist, convection from the surface would first heat a lower layer (while cooling the surface) which then destabilizes a higher layer so that convection can procede farther – but convective heating of the lower layer must be sufficient to maintain the temperature there to allow convection above.

    2. Without any entrainment –
    Convection would reach high up to where an adiabat from the surface intersects the temperature profile – actually there would be some overshoot (overshooting tops – example of thermally indirect circulation – although it is thermally direct when the overshot air falls back). Anyway, this heats a layer higher up. But these updrafts are penetrating through a stable layer of air, and in consideration of continuity (conservation of mass), that layer of air must be sinking. Sinking air that is stable both increases the temperature in Lagrangian and Eulerian perspectives (picture each level following it’s own adiabat downward – the temperature at a given location increases. Thus, the convective plumes are indirectly heating the intervening stable air. Of course, once you have produced a (dry) adiabatic lapse rate, sinking no longer produces warming, but see above – this is not in radiative equilibrium, so there is a distribution of net radiant cooling, which fits the convergence of the convective heat flux necesary to maintain the lapse rate (the radiant cooling during descent will have a stabilizing effect, but sufficiently vigorous convection will indirectly heat the descending branches to keep the lapse rate near dry adiabatic. There has to be some temperature variability in order for convective heat fluxes to actually occur – ascending air must be a little warmer than the descending air). Because Earth’s atmosphere recieves much solar heat from the surface in the form of water vapor, rising air will (above resulting cloud bases) follow a moist adiabat (absent entrainment, etc.); precipitation removes water so that descent from whatever height is reached will not follow a moist adiabat as far down. The establishment of a troposphere with a nearly moist adiabatic lapse rate is stable to dry convection, and the dry descent has a warming effect, which, in order to maintain the temperature profile, requires some non-convective cooling (such as the net radiant cooling that will occur because this layer of the air is warmer than it would be if it were in radiative equilibrium with the rest of the temperature profile.

    PS note that convective heating (or cooling – at the surface, for example) generally changes the radiative equilibrium temperature profile – for example, (see Hartmann, “Global Physical Climatology”, 1994, p.69), in pure radiative equilibrium, not just the surface but some air near the surface could be warmer than it is in radiative-convective equilibrium; initially convection cools this lower layer of air; however, it can still be the case that convection warms this layer of air once the radiative convective equilibrium lapse rate has been established (this layer could have net radiant cooling). Meanwhile, heating of the air higher up by convection will increase the LW flux emitted, which can have a warming effect on the air just above the tropopause; it is also possible the the cooling of the surface could, by reducing a source of upward LW flux, have a cooling effect on the upper atmosphere (it would have a cooling effect in general, actually). (The graph from Hartmann shows a small warming of the lower stratosphere and cooling above that going from pure radiative to radiative-convective equilibrium – even though the upper atmosphere is in pure radiative equilibrium, radiative equilibrium is affected by radiation from regions which are convective, and the amount of radiative disequilibrium anywhere within a convective layer depends on the temperature profile, potentially elsewhere both within and outside the convective layer. PS I’m including the surface as being effectively part of the convective layer (conduction and diffusion between the surface and the air just above is often meant to be covered under the concept of convection in climate science).

    PS clarifying something brought up at the Skeptical science thread http://www.skepticalscience.com/Planetary_Greenhouse.html – there are net LW fluxes upward and downward out of the warmer layer around the stratopause to the cooler layers above and below, but this refers specifically to photons emitted from one layer and absorbed by another. The total net LW flux at a given location is a linear superposition of all net fluxes passing through between layers. The net LW flux is generally upward throughout the atmosphere, at least for global annual average conditions. It increases with height following decreases in the upward convective flux and increases in the downward net solar flux, so that the three fluxes add to zero at every level (on average, for an equilibrium climate).

  8. 458

    It is not so difficult to imagine an increase in severe TC and tornado intensities. The surface is warmer, either sea or ground, and due to CFC’s and other GW effects (boosted by GW gases), the polar regions can get much colder in the spring especially in the Upper atmosphere. This can create very dangerous and unstable air profiles giving 1 mile wide tornadoes, increase precipitation and in somer regions less hurricanes because it triggers stronger El-Ninos.

  9. 459
    Jathanon says:

    #451: Maue has bee associated with WUWT for a while now. He seems to bask in the glow of being a “professor” and “one of them”, fawned on by the regular comment generators.

  10. 460
    Septic Matthew says:

    458, Jathanon: #451: Maue has bee associated with WUWT for a while now. He seems to bask in the glow of being a “professor” and “one of them”, fawned on by the regular comment generators.

    Maue is respected. Read also Hank Roberts at 452 above. Maue’s work has helped draw attention to the climate models that predict declining total annual tropical cyclone energy.

  11. 461
    Tom says:

    Hank @452

    I tried to reply this morning but it got flagged as spam and didn’t make it.

    Anyway, no doubt I’m a victim of the propaganda. I knew that Chris Landsea withdrew from the IPCC because of what I thought were differences in their positions over tropical cyclone activity. From what I understand , he doesn’t believe a warmer world equals more hurricanes so I assumed the IPCC did. I’ve only read parts of the actual report and rely mainly on blogs for encapsulated versions. My bad.

    So thanks for the clarification.

    Personally the idea of fewer hurricanes in a warmer and therefore more energetic atmosphere is seriously counter-intuitive. It would seem that shear would be less during hurricane season because the pressure gradient would have basically disappeared. In general, high pressure throughout the atmosphere from the tropics into the mid-latitudes. And the warm water wouldn’t hurt either. But as Wayne suggests, the whole ENSO thing would be influential to say the least and I still have trouble wrapping my brain around that.

    I also agree that the potential for more and stronger supercells and subsequently more tornados in the spring and fall is reasonable given the greater baroclinicity during those seasons. And again because of the lack of shear, tornadic supercells in the summer would become a rare event.

    Jathanon, it seems AGW just keeps becoming a bigger and bigger ideological battle. He (Maue) accused Jeff Masters of being a leftist ideologue.

    Maybe he is. I don’t know.

  12. 462
    Michele says:

    @ 456 Patrick

    Heat engine
    The heat engine converts the heat to another form of energy having a higher level as the mechanical energy (used to work) but also as the radiant energy (used to cool the atmosphere). Both the mechanical and the radiant energies have a quality higher than the heat, then ………..

    Convective heat flux
    Sorry, the vertical convective flux is ρuδT/δz and we have constant both ρu, because the continuity,div(ρu) = 0, and δT/δz because the adiabatic lapse rate, constant too.

    As you go up through the troposphere, the convective heat flux from the surface generally diminishes with height on average. This convergence of the convective heat flux is a heating rate, which is balanced (on average)by net radiant cooling.
    Not at all. The lapse rate δT/δz = -g/Cp simply states than the rising particle maintains constant its total energy and what is lose as enthalpy (-Cp δT, or generally -Σhi) is gained as geo-gravitational potential energy (gδz). The radiative cooling has little or nothing to do.
    I think that we would find more satisfying answers only with a work of synthesis on the cardinal equations of the fluid dynamics properly taking into account the photonic density for the continuity, at least the photonic pressure for the momentum, and for the energy its radiant density, the mechanical power generated by the photonic pressure, the thermal power radiatively gained/lose and whatever other could have weight on the conservation of mass, momentum, energy. Only so doing we could have the weighted contributes produced by conduction, convection, radiation and we could advisedly decide what can be wisely neglected.
    Deciding “a priori” what take into account or not is procedurally and conceptually wrong.

  13. 463

    EG 163: If you are against nuclear power, you are working for the coal industry.

    BPL: Fallacy of bifurcation.

  14. 464

    Ron R 195,

    Follow the money. The fossil fuel industry worldwide makes $2 trillion per year. In a world where people are shot to death over a wallet or a pair of shoes.

  15. 465

    Michele 197,

    Venus’s heat is (mostly) due to the carbon dioxide in its atmosphere, not the pressure. If Venus’s atmosphere were hot due to a compression event, the heat would have radiated away long ago. Static pressure can’t generate new heat; that would be a perpetual motion machine of the first kind.

    Here are some explanations of how the greenhouse effect works, if you’re interested:

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/EasyGreenhouse.html

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/Greenhouse101.html

    For general information on climatology:

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/Climatology.html

    A good book to start with would be George S. Philander’s “Is the Temperature Rising?” (1998), or John Houghton’s “Global Warming: The Complete Briefing” (2004).

  16. 466

    Jim 234,

    In fairness to Ed, I think he just got 129I confused with 131I, which really does have an eight-day half-life.

  17. 467

    moderator at 262… Oops. Didn’t see that one in time. Please remove anything I said on the subject.

  18. 468

    Chris 295,

    Nice article!

  19. 469

    Chris 326,

    China needs to stop its headlong expansion of coal power. The atmosphere doesn’t care which country contributed more when. A Chinese molecule of CO2 is indistinguishable from a US molecule of CO2.

    The idea that the west industrialized using fossil fuels, therefore the east has the right to do the same, is insane. In the US we developed a lot of our economy using slave labor. Does that justify the Chinese Gulag?

  20. 470

    Chris 326,

    A Chinese CO2 molecule is identical to a US CO2 molecule. Everybody needs to cut back, including China.

    The idea that the west industrialized by polluting the hell out of nature, therefore the east has the same right, is insane.

  21. 471

    Chris,

    China needs to cut emissions too. A Chinese CO2 molecule is identical in all respects to a US CO2 molecule.

    The idea that the west developed by polluting the hell out of the environment, therefore the east has the right to do the same, is insane.

  22. 472
    SecularAnimist says:

    It’s good to see you commenting here again, Barton Paul Levenson.

  23. 473
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 461 Michele

    Re heat engine – The heat engine converts the heat to another form of energy having a higher level as the mechanical energy (used to work) but also as the radiant energy (used to cool the atmosphere).

    That would be true if the atmosphere were radiating at a higher brightness temperature than the heat that supplies the energy. It would be true if the radiation going to space were coming from LED lights or lasers. But the Earth isn’t losing energy to space like a laser. The radiation emitted from the Earth is, or carries, a flux of heat. It has a corresponding entropy of the corresponding amount.

    convection –

    see Skeptical science thread for more (a helpful visualization for you – the idea that you could zoom in on a tropospheric lapse rate and find that it is not an infinitely thin line but a range of adiabats and the air goes up on the warmer ones and comes down on the cooler ones, and can go across from one to the other in between the surface and tropopause; but also DO NOT FORGET the issue of dry descent in a troposphere shaped by moist ascent)

    Sorry, the vertical convective flux is ρuδT/δz and we have constant both ρu, because the continuity,div(ρu) = 0, and δT/δz because the adiabatic lapse rate, constant too.

    So … you think that all of the air in the troposphere is rising? No, at any given vertical level the (global time climatic equilibrium) average u – actually w is the conventional variable for vertical velocty – must be zero. An updraft can slow down and stop in the middle of the troposphere. What do you think happens to updrafts when the stop at the tropopause? The flow spreads out laterally. There is compensatory sinking motion outside the updraft. That satisfies continuity.

    The lapse rate δT/δz = -g/Cp simply states than the rising particle maintains constant its total energy and what is lose as enthalpy (-Cp δT, or generally -Σhi) is gained as geo-gravitational potential energy (gδz). The radiative cooling has little or nothing to do.

    Yes, because an adiabatic process doesn’t have net non-convective cooling. Yet the air picks up heat from the surface via conduction/diffusion (while this is part of convection, it is not adiabatic), and it must lose that heat to radiation somewhere. An adiabatic temperature profile in the Earth’s troposphere is in radiative disequilibrium, and there HAS TO BE net radiant cooling distributed over the troposphere, not just at the top, because of the optical properties of the material.

    I think that we would find more satisfying answers

    I already have satisfying answers.

    only with a work of synthesis on the cardinal equations of the fluid dynamics

    I’ve gotten those answers by studying. Textbooks, clases, reasoning etc. Scientists have figured this all out already.

    properly taking into account the photonic density for the continuity,

    That’s done implicitly by taking radiative fluxes into account (which you don’t seem to want to do sometimes).

    at least the photonic pressure for the momentum,

    In this context that’s not even worth mentioning.

    and for the energy its radiant density, the mechanical power generated by the photonic pressure,

    So you would take into account the impact of a single tiny piece of dust on your windshield when figuring out the time you need to drive to work?

    the thermal power radiatively gained/lose

    Been over that.

    and whatever other could have weight on the conservation of mass, momentum, energy. Only so doing we could have the weighted contributes produced by conduction, convection, radiation and we could advisedly decide what can be wisely neglected.

    Deciding “a priori” what take into account or not is procedurally and conceptually wrong.

    Yes, you figure out what you can omit by doing scale analysis. Which has been done. So don’t bother with radiation pressure. And anyway we’ve been focussed a lot on just the 1-dimensional first approximation to the climate system; that doesn’t begin to cover baroclinic waves/eddies, tropical cyclones, or even the Hadley cell. Yet, all of those accomplish vertical heat fluxes that are the sort which must happen in the 1-dimensional radiative-convective equilibrium approximation, which is not intended to describe all the details of how convection is occuring, just that it occurs with a tendency to prevent much instability from building up and carries the necessary heat fluxes to balance the radiant net heating/cooling that occur as a result of preventing much instability from building up. Understanding how things work often requires, or at least is greatly helped, using a first-approximation, and then building from that.

  24. 474
    Jathanon says:

    Septic Matthew@459
    Maue may be respected for something, I don’t know. But currying favor with the anti-science regulars at WUWT, and adding to the “skeptic” AGW-is-bull blogosphere won’t get him serious respect.

  25. 475

    Thanks, Secular. Chris, sorry for the double post. ReCaptcha is a little more usable than the last time I was here, but it still kind of sux.

  26. 476

    Thanks, Secular. Chris, sorry about the double post. Captcha is better than the last time I was here, but it still kinda bites.

  27. 477
    CM says:

    Tom, re: mainstream expectations about cyclones,

    Here’s my quick survey of what the IPCC assessment reports have had to say about it:
    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=5984#comment-198549

  28. 478

    #471 , Maue? I never heard of the guy, perhaps because he doesn’t know the difference between politics and science. In my opinion, Dr Masters is the best online meteorologist I’ve ever read, never once has Masters mentioned a political philosophy. And also never heard of Maue because he doesn’t have a prediction batting average, or a reputation in being correct, first I’ve heard is this dribble about hurricanes not being common… That is quite hilarious since its the contrarian gang which suggested multiple consecutive 2005 like seasons lasting decades shortly after Katrina, they scoffed at AGW instead blaming the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation. I am waiting for an explanation from them…. Any time soon, perhaps later than sooner…. Mainstream scientists were much more humble., in fact predicting less hurricanes.

  29. 479

    I would also thank Barton for being back, I appreciate especially the formulas. Mathematics is the language of physics.

  30. 480
    Michele says:

    @ Patrick
    My comment is rejected because the several links contained.
    Thus I refer to http://skepticalscience.com/Planetary_Greenhouse.html

  31. 481
    Chris Dudley says:

    BPL #467

    Chinese trade sanctions against the US would reduce their industrial output and thus their emissions.

  32. 482
    flxible says:

    Chinese trade sanctions against the US would reduce their industrial output and thus their emissions

    A total ban on Chinese imports based on human rights violations would achieve the same . . . is there even the slightest possibility that either of those scenarios will occur?

  33. 483
    Jathanon says:

    re: wayne davidson @474
    Well, it appears Maue was a student at Florida State from 2002-2010 then they hired him to administer their tropical storm database. So not much of a record to go on. He seems a full-on ideologue on WUWT, doing joint posts with Watts. Of course, the Koch brothers are heavily invested in FSU.

  34. 484
    Ron R. says:

    Climate Scientists Targeted by Unrelenting Harassment Campaignhttp://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/06/29/climate-scientists-targeted-by-unrelenting-harassment-campaign/

    I don’t know all of the details, but really, these tactics (along with those of groups defending other industries of dubious morality dirty energy, agricultural biotechnology, the chemical industry etc, all the destructive mega-corps that inexplicably continue to get a free governmental pass even when everyone else in the world, including the scientific community is against them), seem more and more to me to be right out of the playbook of organized crime. I seriously have to wonder if there might be a connection. I know it sounds conspiracist but sometimes there really IS a conspiracy.

    I also wonder why it seems these people aren’t being seriously investigated. I don’t mean all the little lackys but those behind them. If they are and we know who they are why aren’t they being called on it before congressional committees? Why aren’t they going to jail? Why are these situations allowed to continue? Why does Science have to plead for justice in its pages? It just seems like these issues just go on and on without resolution. I would think that some able investigators could turn up something, find out who’s behind all the harassment. Would be quite a story.

    Just saying.

  35. 485

    Jathanon 478, I am not surprised, what contrarians lack is gravitas, only Lindzen has some, but not again
    with predictions, we are suppose to be in the beginning of a cold period according to his statement of some 5 years ago. Thanks for the info, so doctor Maue’s batting average is 0.000, never been at bat. While most people at RC are faring much better, between .750 and .95., outstanding, from rigorous practicing brought by sound science coaches.

  36. 486
    Radge Havers says:

    Ron R. @ 480

    “…right out of the playbook of organized crime…”

    What’s organized crime? Reflecting on the situation in my dotage, I’m surprised not so much by how many idiotic, ignorant and corrupt people there are, but by the fact that things work as well as they do in spite of them. However, I suppose even that small consolation may come to an end soon enough.

    Growing up you get the idea that there’s a hard line between an overarching rule of law on the one hand and a knot of intractable malefactors on the other. It’s such a powerful trope that it tends to persist, even though in everyday experience law is porous, boundaries are fuzzy, and people make it up as they go along without much recourse to perspective. It comes from the mythology of truth, justice and the American way. Then again there’s the other mythology, the flip side of American exceptionalism, that lionizes Billy the Kid and fostered wars of manifest destiny and exploitation, gave us robber barons, unregulated markets, and a faith-based view of things filled with contempt for “the world” (i.e. reality).

    For a pretty picture, put yourself in the position of an outsider and turn on American TV. More glory to the Sopranos than action on climate change, and that’s just for starters…

  37. 487
    vukcevic says:

    R. Gates says:
    2 Jul 2011 at 10:26 PM
    Okay, here’s a general question, especially for those who are professional climate scientists:
    What, in your opinion, are the 2 or 3 biggest unknowns currently out there in the study of the climate?

    Once science is prepared to accept non-professional climate scientists the ‘known unknowns’ may become ‘known knowns’ as it is the case here:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/A&P.htm

    [Response:Non-issue. Anyone who shows they actually have something useful to contribute can always do so.–Jim]